Case study: Surge in people taking online test following Diabetes Prevention Week

The adage of prevention being better than cure has been employed to major success in a recent campaign by NHS England to inform people how they can reduce their risk of developing diabetes.

One of the campaign images used on Facebook (Pic credit: NHS England)
One of the campaign images used on Facebook (Pic credit: NHS England)

The first Diabetes Prevention Week, which took place from 16-22 April this year, aimed to raise awareness of the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme with both the public and healthcare professionals.

The campaign was designed to communicate the causes and complications of Type 2 diabetes, as well as who is at high risk of developing the condition. NHS England promoted the campaign through its existing Twitter accounts, as well as on LinkedIn and Facebook.

It also used its e-bulletins to spread the messages of the campaign, as well as writing blogs for medical professionals' magazines such as Pulse and Nursing Times and promoting it at the Diabetes UK conference in March.

Nearly 5,000 Diabetes Prevention Week 'tool kits' were ordered in just over a month, with most being sent to GP surgeries. Others were distributed to local councils, libraries and pharmacies.

Key messages for healthcare professionals – with doctors and nurses in GP practices targeted – included diabetes prevention advice they could give, with the main call to action for patients and the public being to complete the diabetes 'know your risk' test and seek advice if at risk.

The week resulted in a significant spike in the number of people taking the online test, with more than 6,600 uses – up 224 per cent on the previous month, and 168 per cent on the previous year.

A survey was sent out to those involved in delivery of the campaign and other evaluation was conducted via online analytics (Google and Polecat) and qualitative feedback.

More than eight out of 10 of those surveyed agreed that the campaign helped to raise awareness of Type 2 diabetes and 81 per cent agreed that the campaign helped to raise awareness of associated complications and at-risk groups.

Coverage spanned print, TV and radio, with media outlets ranging from BBC Breakfast to York Press and East Midlands Today.

In addition, visits to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme web page were up 65 per cent on the same period the previous year – rising from 6,625 to 10,832.

Leicia Feare, communications and engagement lead for the Diabetes Prevention Programme, said: "We were so pleased to see that there was a real appetite from GP surgeries and other local organisations to get involved in the campaign and raise awareness of Type 2 diabetes and the NHS DPP."

She added: "The success of the campaign was really down to local leads that ordered the free Diabetes Prevention Week tool kits and ran with their own ideas; we saw everything from creative displays in GP surgeries, pharmacies and libraries, to travelling Type 2 diabetes roadshows, healthy eating lunch events and supermarket stalls. We hope to see even more organisations getting involved next year."

The success of the inaugural campaign has prompted NHS England to start planning another Diabetes Prevention Week, to run in March or April next year, with pharmacists also being targeted and the campaign toolkits made available as early as the end of this year.

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